I would know him in death, at the end of the world.
No longer idle words of little substance.
I grew sure of them in a moment of joy, believed them to tide myself during pain, and now had them actualized in the coldness of eternity.
But how could I call his hands in mine cold? Upon finding the other, we simply held on to each other as though we'd never stop. Achilles whispering his apologies fervently in my ear, as if afraid I'd vanish again before he could even get a proper hold on me.
We fell to wandering, quite without purpose or destination, for the sole reason of something to do with ourselves as we discussed all there was to discuss. Achilles held my hand constantly, tethering me to his side. I longed to, and indeed did, tell him over again that he was forgiven, and that it was my own decision that damned me in the end. But still, I saw the grief in his eyes.
I wish Briseis had not been so hard on him, it only pried open his grief and shoved him to his fate quicker.
One of the primary things we agreed on during our amble was that his son was a bit of an emotionless husk who thought nothing of love, or the softer things in life that had balanced Achilles'.
We had fallen now to sitting underneath what resembled a tree, our mouths searching for the words to either forgive or apologize. His head lying on my lap, and both our hands idle with grass, merely thinking content thoughts. His hair is spilling freely, in absence of his plait or cord to tie it back, it's goldness the closest thing to sunlight in this conglomeration of darkness we've fallen to.
My fingers run through his hair now, the rhythm to remind myself that he's here, that we're whole again. That there's no other being, alive or dead who could separate us again. And for the first time in all the while I've known her, I find myself grateful for his mother. She committed a final act of mercy when I saw her lastly. Which I'm sure was very hard for her, seeing as she lacks anything slightly resembling empathy. Yet still, by letting us be remembered together, and sending my soul the final step to under worldly rest. I am grateful.
When our souls met, I felt as though all and any woes and frustrations the previous years had brought me, were as insignificant as a singular snowflake, evaporating instantaneously in a desert. All the tension I felt, both for personal reasons, and on behalf of Achilles and his fate, melted away with the grasp of his arms around my neck, with the pressing of his lips against mine with the intensity of a drowning man.
I smiled now, as I began braiding a segment of his hair. I felt as though this feeling of ease would nestle in my chest, threatening to overwhelm me unless I accepted it. And I would gladly accept such content. Achilles lifted one of his hands to mine, halting it's progress, and stopping it to hold it.
"Briseis was right you know."
I make a lazed sound of enquiry.
"To all the world, I seemed to love you more in death than life" His voice has gone tense now, and I see his hands curled up in on themselves. "I'm so.. so sorry, Patroclus, you deserved the stars hung upon a string, yet in the monotonous dull of the ten years of war, I found myself forgetting what it truly meant to me to know you were there, that you were alive, that you were happy." His voice broke on the word 'happy' and I find my hands sensing a shaking from his body. My heart has tripled in weight, and hangs behind my ribs, still now but still ever present. I shift my legs back and lie my head down next to him, cupping his cheek, now streaked with the pain we've gone through. My voice is hoarse and quiet when I speak.
"You had a fate to attend to, and did I not promise to stay by your side no matter the events that happened throughout the war?"
He holds my hand closer to his cheek in answer.
"Philtatos, now and for eternity, Patroclus.
I close my eyes, and my smile is one of pain and joy, far to intermingled to tell each emotion apart.